Betsy DeVos, Education, and the War On Students

by Leonard Zorfass, edited by Polina Brik

On April 12, 2017, Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education under the highly reactionary far-right Trump administration, declared that the reforms made to help protect students in debt from defaulting on their student loans would be undone. The meager reforms of protection made during the Obama presidency have shown themselves to be too much for the market system that has created a bubble of finance capital around student loans. While students find themselves trapped in debt simply in order to receive an education, education, the strengthening of the mind, has been privatized and monetized giving an advantage to the affluent while profiting off of the debt of working and poor students.

Over $1.2 trillion of student debt currently exists in the United States. The average student owes around $36,000, marking an average of $680 of payment a month. In 2015, Obama created a series of policies which would attempt to help students struggling to pay their loans. Under these new policies, loan servicers had to help the student, the borrower, pay their loans through restructured payments. In the most extreme cases, the Federal Government would pull up the slack and allow forgiveness on loans obtained through the government. Before these policies, the customer service sector of the student loan industry had no obligation to help the student at all. Given that education is free in most of the world, these reforms are quite meager but they are better than nothing. Removal of educational reforms, however, is not only another change in the pattern of reactionary action taken by the Trump regime but, what is more important, – it makes student debt more profitable for Wall Street.

Under the capitalist state, education has been treated like a commodity and universities like corporations. The right to education, which must be extended to all, is only available by way of payment. Under the neo-liberal policies introduced under the highly reactionary Reagan regime, everything lent itself to monetization, including student debt. Student loans, like the housing mortgages that led to the 2008 crisis, are packaged and sold to investors as securities. There is currently over $200 billion of these securities owned by investors. The investor may hold the loan, receiving payment and interest of the working student. Or, the investor may sell the loan for a profit to another investor or bank. The investor may also bet on it, take out a derivative on it, just as they did with mortgage contracts. Just as when then the predatory loan companies went after homeowners, evicting them when they could not pay, they go after the students as well. The student cannot simply have their diploma taken away. Instead, their debt follows them around, garnishing any source of income. Students are going into massive debt only to find themselves in low-wage service jobs and having their low wages garnished, just so a few bankers can profit.

Betsy DeVos led the war against public schools in Michigan, keeping quality education further away from the children of working families. This latest move on her part as the Secretary of Education is just another attack on working people, and most directly on students. Education becomes something that can be bought and sold. The students find themselves on a volatile job market, working upwards of three jobs just to make ends meet, which includes monthly debt payments. All the while, the rich profit from the worker-student misery of debt. Education becomes more and more a luxury for the already affluent while becoming more out-of-reach for a working students, and at best, a deadly chain around their graduated necks. The class war is alive and well, and it lives on in the American University.




Categories: Economics, Economy, Labor, Statements, U.S. News, Workers Struggle

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